I have covered many Realme phones in the past, this up and coming brand has made some of the best mid-range hardware at really affordable pricing to the public which is a great thing when phones these days are costing upwards of £1000.
Realme reached out and offered me an early version of the Realme 8 Pro before launch to do this review, however something worth pointing out that as this is before launch, the software may not be finished and there may be some updates that roll out on launch day or just after to fix any issues, one I found when it came to video recording which is talked about.
The device arrived to me on loan by Realme PR and was on a two week loan basis, the review was completed after the first full week where I also used as my main smartphone of choice to get a realistic feel for using long term.
Once the review content was ready the loan phone was sent back to Realme and no offer of payment or to keep the phone was made, and no one from Realme had any influence in this coverage.
At time of writing the review I was not advised of the advertising price of this smartphone, this was only available once the phone was announced, and also means once this review is live so I had no idea what price point I was looking at during the coverage.
Just an additional disclaimer, the review period was during a UK wide lockdown so photo and video coverage was only really possible when going for exercise or shopping.
Enjoy the review.
A good design is one way for a lesser known brand to grab the attention of customers when most of the time people look for a brand they know, which does mean however by picking a brand they know, they may be missing out on a great alternative, so design can really help.
When it comes to the overall design, the Realme 8 Pro really does stand out, especially from looking at the back as I will cover more about later on in the review, some good things, and some….. questionable.
Thanks to the non-metal build the phone comes in at 176 grams in weight and is just 8.1mm thick which makes it really light in the hand.
The front camera will be covered more in the camera section of the review, but as a quick overview you get a 16 megapixel camera with 1080p recording which does a decent job or selfies and video blogging should you want too, samples will be later on in the review.
The screen comes in at a decent 6.4 inches in size and uses AMOLED technology which means not only do you get those true blacks and better colours, you also get better battery life due to the way AMOLED works over the alternative which is LCD. I was really happy to see the Realme 8 Pro use an AMOLED as so many phones at a lower price are using LCD.
The large screen takes up all the front with no physical buttons to be seen, just the large screen which looks great for watching content back on, the only thing worth mentioning is the front facing camera is located in the top left corner where it almost gets hidden when holding the phone in landscape to play games.
The display also has an in screen fingerprint sensor which means you can use it for unlocking the phone as well as authorising purchases, I did find I had to register my fingerprint a few times for it to work consistently though but once I did everything worked fine.
Looking over at the left side you get the pull out tray hidden away where you use a pin to push out the ejector, you get the Nano SIM slot for your network of choice SIM, also included is Dual SIM support so you can place two different networks at the same time instead of needing two phones, plus also you get MicroSD card support so you can even expand the storage as well as using two SIM cards, often you have to use the 2nd SIM slot for memory expansion so that is a nice touch.
Over on the right hand side you have the volume rocker for up and down controls, also a power button in the middle which feels very clicky and give good feedback, thankfully for some people the fingerprint is placed into the display so not into a power button, some people prefer an on screen fingerprint, some prefer one on the power button so is really a design choice.
As mentioned earlier, I prefer the in button option as I had a few issues with the screen recognising my fingerprint in the display and needed to register it a few times for it to work, where as in phones with a power button sensor this seemed to work 99% of the time.
Up at the top you have one of the dual microphones for noise cancellation as well as stereo recording, both the top and bottom frame is flat where as the sides are curved, this is just part of the overall design and is something I actually liked as it is sort of half way between the flat design on the new iPhone’s, and the curved design others use as curved can be easier to grip.
Down at the bottom you have the other microphone used in the dual setup, you also have the USB-C port for data transfer or fast charging at 50w using the supposed SuperDart charger which really helps with super-fast charging when you only have a few minutes spare to get some extra power.
You also have the 3.5mm headphone jack which was nice to see as it lets you have the choice of either using a decent wired pair if you have one, or use Bluetooth if you prefer the wireless option.
Turning over to the back you have design which some people will love, Realme have a Black version available as well as the nice matte gradient Blue which is the one I was sent, the colour looks stunning and with the matte finish really does impress in the design front.
But then comes the design choice which will have many people split on how they feel, Realme went with slapping a huge ‘DARE TO LEAP‘ logo on the back… in HUGE font which really does stand out.
Personally when I saw it in photos I was not overly impressed with how it looked, although once I got the phone in my hands it did not seem as bad, however would have thought it better to have kept the back clear of this, and instead put the slogan on the clear case you get in the box instead.
This isn’t the first time a company has put huge text on the back, Honor did this with their Honor 30 series and this also split people’s opinions.
You get a LED flash next to the camera section which is used for improving low light conditions if you need a light to boost brightness, but most people will use for a flashlight.
When it comes to the cameras you get a quad setup in the top corner, instead of all four being in a row, the Realme 8 Pro camera design looks like a hob of 2×2 rings so they are in a square design.
The cameras include a main 108MP wide angle, a 8MP ultra-wide angle, a 2MP Black and White lens for helping with portrait shots and finally a 2MP macro shooter if you want to get close to an object, even if it is a low resolution.
Sample photos and videos taken from each camera can be found later on in the review so you can see what the quality is like.
Software on the Realme 8 Pro was actually very enjoyable, this is the first phone with the new Realme UI 2.0 out of the box which is built on top of Android 11 and allows for some handy customisations to make it more personal to you.
If you have used any Oppo phones in the past then Realme UI will look very familiar, this is because it is pretty much the same experience, just with Realme named instead of Oppo, but this is also a good thing as Colour OS from Oppo has come a long long way since it started many years ago.
The drop down menu has some nice touches including showing the amount of data you have used in the day, handy if you are not on an unlimited data plan and want to keep a look at what you are using each day so you won’t run out.
There is a Dark Mode built in which was what I was using personally, and with the AMOLED display means you get those deep blacks, it helped using the phone on a day to day basis and with the splash of colour here and there, helps make colours stand out and help with battery life.
You also get a swipe in page on the far left side called Smart Assistant, this is a customisable page that gives you quick access to certain content without having to look through the phone such as Step Tracker, Weather, Favourite Contacts and Quick Functions.
Also included is a Game Space area which lets you put gaming as a priority and block notifications, as well as boost gaming performance depending on the settings you set in the options, this is very handy if you are into your gaming and hate getting interrupted by constant notifications.
Digital wellbeing is also a big area and you get a set of tools in the settings to monitor your use on each app per day so you can make sure you are taking a break from your phone.
Parents are also covered here with a separate area using Google Family Link which allows you to monitor timers, set certain apps that are allowed and restrict certain content until you authorise it as a parent.
Performance on phones at the lower to mid-range can vary quite a lot, of course not knowing the actual retail price it was hard to really put it in value against performance, but for daily tasks the Realme 8 Pro seemed to handle things very well, including some gaming too which I was doing a lot of during lockdown.
Performance was good even though it is not running the most advanced processor, the Snapdragon 720G does a great job at even heavy graphic games I was playing, and with the large battery I was easily able to get through a full day of use, although it will not win any spec wars, when running GeekBench 5 tests it scored on par with the Samsung A71 and the original Poco F1 phone.
This is backed up by either 6GB or 8GB of RAM depending which you buy which means smooth multitasking including graphic heavy games, and in my time playing Call of Duty or PUBG I had no issues at all with the performance and this was based on a 8GB model.
Storage on both the 6GB and the 8GB is 128GB and comes with expandable storage support via MicroSD cards if you wanted to purchase one for that extra bit of space if and when needed.
The battery included is 4500mAh which is very good considering a lot of phones still have 4000mAh or under, so even the 500mAh extra can help you get through that little bit extra usage.
Whilst you do miss wireless charging support, you do get 50w SuperDart charging via the supplied plug and cable in the box for super-fast charging when you do need to plug into the wall, and yes, the charger does come in the box which is good as lots now you need to purchase separately.
When it comes to network support, you do get Dual-SIM so can use two different SIM cards at the same time, very handy if you have a personal and a work phone, however something missing is 5G meaning you get the choice of 2G, 3G and 4G.
Whilst you do also get 4G+ support when and if your network supports it, this helps get some decent speeds most of the time, it is just a shame there is no 5G modem for keeping the phone longer term and future proofing yourself.
The biggest concern is for a phone expected to be around the £300 mark, Xiaomi did such a good job with the specs of their Mi10T Lite which includes 5G, the main reason you will prefer the Realme is the higher resolution camera.
Of course you also get the standard GPS, Bluetooth, NFC and Wi-Fi built in for navigation and communication, Wi-Fi supports the latest standard too for stronger and quicker data speeds if you have the right router.
When Realme announced their new 8 Series, the main focus (excuse the pun) of the 8 Pro was the camera technology and that main 108MP main sensor with all the cool tricks it has to offer, and in return give you some amazing photos with very little effort.
Quality of the selfie camera for both photos and videos is quite good without being amazing, but then again the main reasons for a selfie camera are either sharing on social media or using the video for video calling such as WhatsApp or Duo, and for this the quality is decent enough.
The camera comes in at 16 megapixels which is decent enough for daily use when it comes to taking those selfies and sharing on social media, and no one really prints anything from the selfie camera so quality does not have to be outstanding to get the job done.
Selfie videos top out at 1080p resolution at 30 frames per second and an example of this is below in case you wanted to check out for yourself, remember though to change the settings in the video to 1080p in case YouTube decided to play at 480p instead.
There is face tracking which is good if you are walking to keep you in focus, and stabilisation seems to do a good job at keeping things reasonable steady.
However something I did notice with both the selfie mode and the rear camera when recording video is that after about 20 seconds, the screen light started to get very dim, and if outside was actually quite hard to see what I was recording, I talk about this in the actual video.
Once the recording stops the lighting comes back on again, I am not sure why this happened and have sent off the fact this happens for Realme to investigate and hopefully resolve in a future software update.
Realme have gone for a quad camera setup over on the back as mentioned before, however it will be the 108MP main camera and the 8MP ultra-wide that get used the most, the other two are there to help with low resolution Macro photos and for Portrait mode support.
The main sensor comes in at 108MP and does a decent job at capturing lots of detail and information whilst also keeping reasonable image quality, this will be the camera you use most of the time so great to see good performance from this. Realme are proud to talk about this being their first phone with such a high resolution camera that actually captures some decent quality photos too.
There is an option to shoot in the full 108MP mode if you want, this does let you then play around with zooming in later on and taking crops out from the large image, but you do lose out on the performance benefits offered at shooting in the normal mode.
Second is the 8MP ultra-wide angle which gets more into the frame and is used for situations like group shots or landscape photos when you have more to get into the photo and don’t want to cut anything off the sides, you do drop down to 8MP though which is a lower resolution, but again quality is decent enough for most situations that you will want to use it for, and it is better to get a lower quality photo with all the content than cut parts off by not using the ultra-wide.
The third camera is a 2MP Black and White Portrait shooter which gets used to help in the Portrait mode to capture realistic bokeh effects and details in the shadows to give a better overall photo with lots of details thanks to working with the main 108MP camera.
Last of all you get the 2MP macro shooter, this is what you can use when in settings you enable the Ultra Macro mode and lets you get really close up to objects, of course at a much lower resolution to the others, and be careful when using as normally you need decent lighting to get a good Macro shot, and the closer you get to the object the more natural light you block out so this can be hit and miss as with most Macro cameras in this range with a low resolution.
Here are photos taken using each of the cameras so you can see what quality you can expect to see from these cameras.
Camera Software Notice
These photos were taken on pre-release software, just before launch a 3GB update was sent to the phone to help improve image quality but the review had already been finished with imaged included.
As such the images taken should be considered not final and updates may still be rolled out to further image quality.
The new Samsung HM2 sensor used in the main camera has a large 1/1.52inch sensor which allows more light into it which should also mean better low light photos with brighter colours and less background noise, something that older sensors can struggle with.
You also get 9-in-1 Pixel Binning which is the techy term for what goes on once you take the photo to get better results, in reality you end up with larger pixels which capture more information, and therefore better results in both daytime and night-time conditions.
Some examples of the night mode are included in the gallery above.
Whilst there is no telephoto camera on the Realme 8 Pro, the company use their huge 108MP sensor to be able to take 3x in-sensor zoom photos at 12MP which means you do get to zoom and keep a decent amount of detail whilst also getting a zoomed in image to use.
Realme have also improved their ‘Starry Mode’ which lets you put your phone in a tripod and capture clear photos of the stars, as long as the conditions are right for it, whilst this won’t be for everyone, the results are really impressive and something normally found in high end phones like the Google Pixel which cost a lot more, and also Realme have managed this for video content too.
Tilt-Shift is a mode which almost converts what you are looking at into a miniature version instead with some clever technology going on once you enable this mode, some samples to show what I mean can be found below, it just adds that extra bit of creativity if you want to share with others.
There are loads of different modes to play with on the Realme 8 Pro camera so anyone from the point and shoot basic user to the creative person can get the most out of what this device has to offer.
Video recording is decent enough for a smartphone in this range, the videos above were all recorded at maximum resolution, with the main sensor the quality is the best thanks to the 4K resolution at 30 frames per second.
You have the choice to switch to 2x or 5x zoom mode, the latter takes a hit on quality due to not having a dedicated telephoto camera on the back, however 2x video footage does a good job on the odd time you may need to zoom in, however the best footage comes when you do not zoom in at all.
Something Realme also offer when it comes to stabilisation is two different modes which are a Stable, and a Max which makes things even smoother when you need too, although with either of these turned on you seem to lose being able to use the AI mode although why there needs to be two stabilisation modes does seem a little confusing and would be better to have it either ON or OFF.
Something that also seemed strange was not being able to record video using the ultra-wide, normally when you are in video mode you get the options of 0.6x, 1x, 2x, 5x, yet on the Realme 8 Pro the options were only 1x, 2x, 5x.
Having used the Realme 8 Pro for just over a week now, would I recommend buying one yourself to use as your daily driver smartphone?
This is hard to say right now with no price to guide me what you will have to pay to get hands on one yourself, so what I will say is this, if you want a high megapixel camera on your phone with large battery, dual SIM support and a good AMOLED display for what should be around £250-£300 then this is a good buy, mainly due to the decent display and impressive set of camera technology used.
If you are looking for a phone that is higher in performance, or 5G ready then you will unfortunately have to look elsewhere, this is due to no 5G support and the slower processor against some of the competition.
The screen is a good size for anyone who wants to get a decent size to watch videos on due to the 6.4 inch size, it is smaller than some of the 6.7 inch competition, but still larger than the 6 inch mark lots of people look for that so called ‘sweet spot’
A big thanks to Realme who supplied the device for review before it’s official release or announcement, anyone interested in getting one can pick one up at Realme direct or via Amazon once pricing has been released.